CRN honors our Global Channel Partner Marketing Manager in its “2020 Women of the Channel” list
Upbeat, self-motivated, and well-spoken may be just a few of Tetiana Pasko’s traits, but they are fundamental qualities that propelled her to where she is today – being recognized by CRN in its 2020 “Women of the Channel” list. Tetiana leads Avast’s Global Channel team, which empowers channel partners (resellers, distributors, VARs, and MSPs) with the tools, information, and guidance to be as successful as possible.
I caught up with Tetiana to learn a little more about the innovations and changes happening with Avast Business in 2020. She told me she was humbled by the CRN honor when I asked about its impact. She also talked about being a female in the tech world, the Avast Business response to the COVID-19 crisis, and the newly retooled Avast channel partner program. As a key architect of the program, she explained how the updated model benefits all of Avast’s channel partners, as well as their clients. Read more in my interview with Tetiana below.
So what does the CRN honor mean for Avast Business?
Well, I think it’s important to have female leaders that are recognized. I think it’s important that we have people in the channel that are female so it’s not just a male-dominated industry, and hopefully that will attract more women to apply for jobs and help us with diversity across the industry.
Do you believe you’re treated differently for being female?
To be honest, no. I think the important thing is just to know what you’re doing, and be confident in what you do, and then be able to clearly communicate your vision and let facts back you up. IT has become a more open industry to women. In the past five years, I’ve seen so much change in how female team leaders are treated in this industry, and I think it’s only been in a very positive direction.
What is Avast doing to support the channel during the COVID-19 crisis?
As an organization, Avast is doing a lot, such as a huge donation that specifically supports research on COVID-19. I find it quite impressive that as a company we want to help not only fight online viruses and cyberthreats, but real viruses and real life threats.
Specifically for our channel partners, we launched a series of free offers that really support and help them smoothly migrate their customers to working from home. A lot of them used to be protected by what we call the “office perimeter.” But now that they’re all working from home, there are many more gaps in security that they were not affected by previously. So we’re actually giving out three months of free products that specifically protect home workers. Any partner can sign up any of their customers for free three months of, for example, Patch Management or CCleaner. We really are focused on supporting their remote workforce.
Today, we see a huge growth in cyberthreats, specifically around home workers, and we know that one of the weakest links is, in fact, people. Businesses don’t necessarily have the time or resources to educate their staff on how to stay secure online. So, not only have we launched offers for free security tools for three months, but we are also launching an educational series. It’s a series of six videos that talk about the key web threats that exist today. Our partners can easily pass these videos on to their SMB customers, and their customers can easily share them with their employees, so everyone is educated on topics like “What is malware?”, “What is ransomware?”, “What do you need to do when you work from home to make sure that you stay safe?” etc.
These are very simple messages, but I believe they will be very effective because if, for example, I’m a dentist and I have an assistant supporting me in my business, would she necessarily know all of these key facts? Potentially not. It’s not really part of her job. Yet all of a sudden, she might see emails popping up saying this or that invoice has not been paid, and perhaps they’re not real emails, they’re phonies, coming from someone trying to compromise her network. We highlight simple things like this in the educational series that will hopefully help people stay more secure online.
COVID-19 crisis aside, what else is in store for Avast Business in 2020?
We have a lot of exciting things happening. We’ve listened to our partner feedback, and we’re creating a new partner program that is able to cater to different key partner types that we work with. The program will be reflective of their actual business models. So if you are an MSP and you drive your business on a cost-based model, we would present to you the offers, the pricing, and the overall program benefits that we would like to put forward for you. This makes our program more competitive while at the same time setting up our partners for success. We are looking at launching the first phase of this improved partner plan mid-year 2020. The key changes should help our partners accelerate their growth, and it ensures that the way we work with them is reflective of how they work with their customers.
What is the key to success for channel partners in 2020?
I think the key to success is multiple things. The partner program will be one of the pillars, of course. But at the same time, we’re also making internal changes on how we work with partners. We’re identifying key partners and moving into a high-touch comm management model with them. Moving forward, partners that fall under platinum and gold status within our program will actually have access to comm managers on a daily basis. So whether it’s the training they need, just a simple question, or they need us to talk to their customer to explain a value proposition – whatever support they require, they will have access to it straight away. So while we’re evolving the partner program, at the same time we’re making these internal changes to ensure that our loyal partners get as much support as they need on a daily basis.
Have subscription IT models taken over everywhere or do break-fix models still exist?
I think, to be honest, if you are still using a pure break-fix model, you are probably in danger of going out of business. Customers today, especially SMBs, like to pay for their IT services the same way they pay for Netflix – a monthly subscription, they can continue if they want, pause anytime, stop anytime.
That’s today’s consumer world. It is a big change for traditional resellers or IT service providers who have been running their businesses for the past 20 years in a break-fix way. They don’t know anything different. This is where we proactively help with training that enables our partners to change their sales mentality. It’s not product training, which is quite unusual. It doesn’t talk about our products at all. It’s training to help partners change how they approach sales and talk to customers. We also help them transition away from financial unpredictability by teaching them to create recurring revenue streams for themselves. At the end of the day, that is where they’d like to be anyway. They want to know income is coming in every month. With a break-fix model, you only get paid if something actually goes wrong, whereas the predictable mode not only allows you to rely on constant income, but also empowers you to show a lot more value to your customers and become more competitive in the industry.